Showing posts with label bookstores. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bookstores. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Follow up on Fundraiser for Food For Thought Books

Some time ago, I wrote a post here about a small bookstore in Amherst, Massachusetts, Food For Thought Books, which was trying a crowdsource fundraiser to keep itself open. I just thought I would report briefly that they made their goal and a bit over. So Yay! for crowdsource and for small, community-based, socially conscious bookstores. Congratulations to Food For Thought and many thanks to all of those who contributed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bookstore using crowdfunding to stay open

My daughter forwarded me this plea from Food For Thought Books in Amherst, MA.  They are struggling, as so many independent bookstores are these days, to stay open.  They have turned to crowdsourcing to come up with the funds they need to tide themselves over the gap they foresee as they reduce the footprint and try to forge a future as a smaller store.  See Food for Thought CrowdSource.  Food for Thought has been more than a simple bookstore for 38 years.  Located in the Pioneer Valley, it has served as a center for the social justice and progressive communities, and a safe space for the gay, lesbian, queer and transexual community, and for radical thinkers. 

* The Indiegogo website that Food for Thought Books was using to raise money seems to hve gone away. I am trying to find out if (I hope!) that means they met their goal and shut down the fundraiser. I'll let folks know if I can figure out what it means. (11/30/13). Their Facebook page as of 11/27 says: "It's 5pm and we've raised $11,427! Think we can reach $12,000 by tomorrow??" (the ultimate goal is $38,000) So I think the Indigogo page is just temporarily broken. If you are trying to reach it to make a donation, please try back later!
Betsy McK*

While there have been several articles (Economist, Smart Planet, NY Times, and Christian Science Monitor) recently noting numbers showing overall growth in independent bookstores, my personal experience is that most of my local independent booksellers have closed up.  That includes, of course, the chain stores that these articles are dissing. The edge of small, independent booksellers, according to all three of the articles I link above is that they can get to know their customers and form personal bonds with them.  That certainly seems to shine through in the announcement for Food for Thought, above.

The Christian Science Monitor, as usual, analyzes the issues in much more detail, and it's an interesting read.  They point to a variety of influences in the recent resurgence of small, independent bookstores:

1.  The closing of Borders -  many of the erstwhile brick-and-mortar customers of this large chain have wandered into small independent bookstores and found a new bookseller.

2.  "Buy local" isn't just for veggies any more.

3.  Social media has enabled small independents to reach a larger audience with a lower overhead.

4. Newer bookstore owners are coming in with a business-savvy attitude.

5. Younger owners.

6.  Community events, and more creativity in developing community events. Some even run summer camps in their bookstores.

7.  Enough bookstores have closed, the market is stabilizing. Maybe.

8.  Diversified revenue streams; some bookstores do more than just sell new books. Some publish, some sell second-hand as well as new, some sell alternative and niche titles and paraphernalia.

9.  Beyond the coffee shop:  Some are adding wine bars, cheeses, summer sausages, olives, jams and locally made breads, specialty coffees, Italian sodas, cakes and chocolate.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The British Library Steps in It

The venerable British Library has been accused of "undermining struggling independent book shops by piloting a website initiative that redirects visitors to Amazon to purchase titles," according to an article in The Independent. Independent bookstores in England, like their counterparts in the United States, have been struggling to survive because of competition from Amazon, which can sell books more cheaply thanks to its ability to buy books in large quantities.

The library's online catalogue lists more than 13 million of the more than 150 million titles owned by the library. The website's newly refurbished search system now offers browsers the option of clicking on "This item in", which redirects users to a page where they can buy a copy of the book from the online retailer.

British booksellers feel that the move by the British Library undercuts them and threatens the very existence of independent bookstores in England, despite their "cultural and educational value." At the same time, they are worried about the effect of tablet computers and e-readers on their business. The Booksellers Association has been lobbying the government to lend its support, and launched the Keep Books on the High Street campaign in October as a way to dramatize the plight of independent bookstores in England.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back from Spain

I just returned from a three-week trip to northern Spain (Barcelona, Bilbao, Leon, Burgos, Astorga, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruna) and then to Madrid. Barcelona, of course, is famous for its collection of buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, and these did not disappoint. In Bilbao, we visited the Guggenheim Museum with its renowned building; the building is eyecatching to be sure, but I was underwhelmed by the collection of art it contained--the reaction of a jaded New Yorker? Leon and Burgos are famous for their cathedrals, and the cathedral in Leon is particularly noteworthy for its stained glass, which is simply spectacular. Santiago de Compostela is the home of another famed cathedral, not as ancient or beautiful as those in Leon and Burgos, but holding a special place in the heart of Roman Catholics because it contains the tomb of the apostle Saint James the Elder, the patron saint of Spain. Santiago de Compostela is also the endpoint for pilgrims on El Camino de Santiago, which runs through northern Spain. We had earlier encountered pilgrims in Leon and Burgos, which are also on the Camino. They are hard to miss because they carry walking staffs which are adorned with scallop shells, the traditional symbol of the pilgrimage. The illustration to this post is of a scallop shell like the ones we saw everywhere in Santiago in Compostela. The pilgrimage dates back to the Middle Ages and has become very popular among people of all ages and nationalities in the last decade or so. In La Coruna, we climbed the Tower of Hercules, originally a lighthouse built by the Romans, which afforded splendid views of the surrounding countryside and ocean. In Madrid, we spent a long day (ten hours) at the Prado, and didn't manage to make it through the whole collection. I had forgotten what a treasure trove of Old Masters it contains. We also visited a special exhibit at the Palacio Real of art from Poland, which contained two paintings I had never seen before except in illustrations--a glorious portrait by Rembrandt of a young girl who nearly jumped out of the picture frame at the viewer. The Rembrandt almost stole the show from the crown jewel of the exhibit--Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine. We lingered so long over this enigmatic painting, considered a Polish national treasure, that the guards practically had to throw us out. The rest of the exhibit is also well worth seeing.

We were last in Spain about thirty years ago, and so much has changed. What hasn't changed is the beauty of the countryside and the delectable food made from locally-grown vegetables and fruits. The tomatoes and oranges bear little resemblance to what we buy in our supermarkets back here. I'm going to have to make it a point to frequent farmers' markets this summer and liberate myself from supermarket produce.

The last time we were in Spain, we visited Madrid and southern Spain, and most people seemed to speak Castilian. In northern Spain, depending on where you travel, people speak Castilian, but also Catalan, Basque, and Galician. Catalan and Galician I could cope with, but Basque was completely impenetrable to me. I later learned that Basque predates the Romance languages, and is unrelated to any other European language. That explains my difficulty in understanding it. Something else that struck me was the number and variety of bookstores in Spain. At home, we are all aware that independent bookstores are dying off, and we are left with only a few large chains. This is not the case in Spain, where there may be several bookstores in one block. Although this is particularly true in university towns, it was also true in towns that did not have universities.

Speaking of bookstores, before the trip, I finally bought myself a Kindle and I think I'm in love. I loaded it up with some old favorites and some classics I hadn't read before, and I found it to be a tremendous convenience. At first I missed having a physical book, but I soon found that the format didn't actually make much of a difference in my reading experience. I hadn't brought a laptop with me, but I was able to use my Kindle for email. It works well for reading messages, but not so well for sending messages--not surprising as it is meant to be a reading device.